The 2021 Olafika SME Development and Mentorship Programme kicked off towards the end of May 2021 at Rock Lodge in Okahandja, with this year’s programme designed and conceptualised by local entrepreneur and businesswoman Twapewa Kadhikwa.
This year’s training from the budding mentorship institute was supported by the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC), the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), the trade ministry, the urban and rural development ministry and the African Leadership Institute (ALI).
Olafika founder and director Kadhikwa believes that they should drive the Namibian entrepreneurship vision by growing the platform to provide factual, balanced and easily understood research-based information.
She stressed that Olafika has the ability to positively change public perceptions towards SME’s and entrepreneurs, and support development, innovation as well as create competitive industry growth within the Namibian business sector.
She added that Namibians have exactly nine years to Vision 2030, emphasising that if the nation does not start running now, its ambitions will not bring themselves into action.
Kadhikwa said: “Covid-19 has shown us how catastrophic it is not to develop the backbone of your economy, which are the SMEs. Once you have too many who depend on the government, it’s a catastrophe. Let us not waste the lessons learned from this crisis!”.
Meanwhile, the class of 2021 commenced on 27 May, and was conducted through a hybrid format, using face-to-face teaching with a stronger online presence via the Olafika app as well as digital platforms.
At the commencement of the training, Brent Eiseb, chief executive officer (CEO) of NDTC said “It is important to highlight why we got involved in Olafika. When the concept was proposed, what stood out was how much it aligned with our vision. Our passion is to make Namibia shine. Olafika is the platform to make Namibia shine. We can be very proud to say that what we are doing here is a game-changer for this country. The effects might not be immediate, but three to five years down the line, trust me, the impact of this project will be known”.
The most important questions he urged students to ask themselves is, “how do I become a solution for national problems, and how do I become a mentor to other upcoming entrepreneurs?”
“Olafika is not a sponsorship, it is a partnership. Olafika will create a platform where stakeholders can come together and speak in a shared and safe space about where we want to take the SME sector in Namibia. Looking around and seeing the rest of the partners, one can see that we are strategically well- aligned to push this initiative to its fullest potential”, Eiseb observed.
Olafika takes participants through an active transformation and leadership training. Chrisna von Gericke-Fourier, co-founder of the African Leadership Institute (ALI), told participants they should no longer rely on government to provide them with jobs as that era has long ended, but that they should rather become job creators and proud entrepreneurs.
The second intake of participants is scheduled to run from 12 to 15 July 2021, and participants have expressed excitement to continue with the next session.
One of the Olafika 2021 participants, Irene Ngarizemo, was upbeat. “I see the Olafika SME Development and Mentorship Programme as an opportunity that will come with benefits such as equipping myself with knowledge and skills. I believe that after this programme, we will shine so bright that we’ll attract others to become trained entrepreneurs,” she beamed.
Also present was Natalie Rusmann, KAS country representative, who said “the Olafika initiative is something different, and when it came to our office, we realised very quickly how we share the same values that the programme stands for. SME development is a new focus for us here in Namibia, but this is a new focus that we are keen to contribute to. KAS wants to be a partner in the success story of so many Namibians.”